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Mozambique and Cape Verde's telcos offer affordable mobile internet as citizens urged to stay home

Santa Maria Avenue, Cape Verde. Photo by Miccaela, Wikimedia Commons. CC-BY 3.0

Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19.

As more and more Africans are ordered to stay at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Mozambique and Cape Verde state-owned telcos are offering significant discounts on mobile data.

To date, Mozambique has registered a total of 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and no deaths, while Cape Verde has had six cases and one death. Last week, both countries have imposed a 30-day state of emergency, with the possibility of extension.

According to Portugal's news agency Lusa:

As duas operadoras cabo-verdianas de telecomunicações móveis, CV Móvel e Unitel T+, anunciaram hoje uma campanha conjunta disponibilizando gratuitamente um pacote de 2.000 MB de Internet para apelar à permanência em casa, como prevenção da covid-19.

Denominada de pacote “Fica em Casa”, a campanha foi anunciada em conjunto pelas duas operadoras, numa mensagem divulgada nas redes sociais na qual assumem que “uniram forças” para que os cabo-verdianos fiquem “bem em casa”.

A campanha oferece aos clientes das duas operadoras, além de um pacote de 2.000 Mega Bytes (MB) de dados, 15 minutos de comunicações para todas as redes nacionais, para serem consumidos até o dia 30 de Abril.

The two Cape Verdean mobile telecommunications operators, CV Móvel and Unitel T+, announced today a joint campaign that will make available a free package of 2,000 MB of internet to encourage citizens to stay at home, as a form of prevention of COVID-19.

Titled the “Fica em Casa” (“stay home” in English) package, the promotion was announced by the two operators on social networks in a message that says they have “joined forces” so that Cape Verdeans stay “well at home”.

The package offers customers of both operators, in addition to the 2,000 MB data package, 15 minutes of calls for all national operators to be used up until April 30.

COVID-19: Campaign gives 2000 MB of internet to help Cape Verdeans to stay home.

A few people have questioned the efficacy of such campaign as many Cape Verdeans don't have regular internet access:

What a joke !!! How many Cape Verdeans have internet? Go sneer in hell!

In Cape Verde, an island country of 560,000 people, 57 percent of the population use the internet, according to 2017 data by the World Bank. On that year, the world average was 50 percent.

In Mozambique, where internet penetration is even lower — the same World Bank report says only 10 percent of its 30 million people are internet users –, state-owned operator TmCel launched a similar promotion, with the same “stay home” slogan.

The promotion consists of packages ranging from 1 to 5 GB, costing from 25 to 100 meticals (0.37 to 1.50 USD).

Activate the #StayAtHome offers from 25 meticals valid for 30 days.

Use *219# choose your offer and stay at home with Tmcel. For more information visit the link below: :https://t.co/dKoUI0E0wT

Although the offer seems to have been well received, a few Twitter users posed questions:

Good initiative.

Is the quality good too?

Staying home is not an option for the many informal and daily subsistence workers in Mozambique and Cape Verde. Activist Tomás Queface tweeted:

The #Coronavirus reveals yet another facet of social inequalities. While #StayAtHome is a privilege for few people, for the poor it is a constant dilemma: staying at home without food, or continuing to work and risk your health or endangering the health of others.

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